A good number of users highly value the services provided by Google, including emails, calendars, tasks, documents, and so much more. But Linux users also love their desktop applications, and how they often integrate very nicely with the desktop.
So what can people do who use Linux but love Google’s products? Thankfully, there are a good number of Linux applications which can connect very well to both Google’s products as well as your Linux desktop. Let’s take a look at how this can be accomplished.
Arguably, the most important product from Google which people will often want to integrate into their Linux desktops is Gmail. There are plenty of articles here on MakeUseOf about the benefits of Gmail and why virtually all staff members of MakeUseOf use it. Thankfully, getting Gmail integrated and synchronized on your computer is very easy. You can use Evolution, Thunderbird, or your favorite email client to set up Gmail via the IMAP protocol. Thunderbird automatically figures out the settings for GMail, while other email clients can be easily set up by following some simple instructions.
Google Calendar can also be set up in similar fashion. Both Evolution and Thunderbird (via a plugin) can add and sync with Google Calendars. Evolution users just need to switch over to their Calendar view, and then add a Google calendar. Thunderbird users will first need to install the Lightning plugin to add calendar functionality, then optionally install the Google Provider as well. Now, you can add Google calendars via the Google Provider or via CalDAV. If you choose CalDAV — which is preferable for any other program I haven’t mentioned — there are instructions from Google on how to set it up correctly. iCal is also available, but through experience I’ve found that it isn’t good when it comes to synchronization. If you don’t like any of these suggestions, you can also try the Google Calendar Indicator for Ubuntu.
While I’m personally not a huge fan of Google Tasks, but there’s a decent amount of people who enjoy it as well. In this case there aren’t a lot of programs that can connect with Google Tasks, so you can take a look at installing Google Tasks Indicator if you’re using Ubuntu. Getting Things GNOME also seems to be working on gaining Google Tasks sync support.
As far as contacts are concerned, Evolution should have similar processes in setting up contact books which synchronize with Google. Simply create a new contact book and choose to use Google. Thunderbird, on the other hand, requires an extension intuitively called “Google Contacts“, and once that is installed, it automatically adds contacts from any Gmail-based addresses already in Thunderbird. As support for contacts is a bit less popular, it’s possible that there aren’t many other applications which can do this.
Do you have a lot of friends on GTalk? No problem! You can take your favorite instant messaging client, such as Empathy, Pidgin, or Kopete, and connect to your GTalk service. In case there isn’t a specific provider for GTalk — where you would only then need to enter in your login details — you should be able to choose the XMPP protocol, and then follow the instructions from Google.
As you can see, it really isn’t hard to connect to your vital Google services using common applications found in Linux. A fair amount of your configuration will probably be done in Thunderbird/Evolution/your favorite email or office client, which also makes it a lot easier to keep everything in one place. Hopefully now you’ll rest in peace that your favorite Google services are working right on your desktop.
What Google services do you like to have on your desktop the most? What features or support is sorely needed? Let us know in the comments!